KARACHI: Agriculture is main stay of food production, there are some limiting factors which affect crop production. Among these Insect pests are important limiting factors. Insect pests cause 14 percent losses to agriculture. The percentage of losses vary with type of crop. About 38 percent losses occur in cotton and 30 percent in mustard production, says a new research conducted by Aziz Ahmed, a PhD researcher at Agriculture and Agribusiness Management Department, University of Karachi.
The research conducted under the supervision of Chairman Agriculture and Agribusiness Management, University of Karachi, Prof Dr Saleem Shahzad, informs about agriculture crop losses and soil degradation.
The study said: “Dangers of non-judicial use of chemical pesticides is increasing very rapidly. “The hazardous severity has been reported on living systems and ultimately on the cunning creature of human because pesticides residues in food, water and environment are very common.”
The research said many insecticides are toxic to human and animals even in low doses: whereas some are carcinogens. Researchers and farmers are therefore looking for less hazardous and alternatives to hazardous pesticides. “Alternatives to chemical pesticides probed and tried for crop-insect pest control include microbial insecticides, botanical insecticides, soap insecticides, PARASITOIDS AND PREDATORS, the research said.
It said world pesticide production shows a steeply increasing trend. In 1980, the value of world pesticide production was about US$ 11600 million of which 14 percent represented herbicides, 34.7 percent insecticides, 18.8 percent fungicides and bactericides, and 5.5 percent other pesticides.
In 25 years (1980-2005), application of pesticides has increased in terms of amount to US$ 31191 million, of which the herbicides contributed 48 percent, insecticides 25 percent, fungicides ad bactericides 24 percent and other shared 3 percent in total pesticides cost worldwide.
Referring to his research, Aziz said that pesticides use in crops generate HIGH TO light TOXIC PESTICIDE RESIDUES in food which goes to the bodies of human and animals. Resultantly, human health is affected by this TOXICATED food. He said that there is need to introduce organic farming in the country so as to save people from poisonous implications of pesticides.
Organic farming is being carried out in whole Europe, Canada, US, Australia, New Zealand and Malaysia while China has also initiated it at low level. “Biological control techniques, which are beneficial for human health, are being used to kill insects and pests instead of using pesticides chemical in crops that are good alternative in organic farming. Entomopathogenic fungi can kill insect pest species like Aphid,” he said.
He informed that Trichoderma FUNGUS, an organism, if used in crops, can eliminate diseases of crops like Rust and Smut. This will save crops from use of pesticides which is harmful for human. He said that organic farming could be carried out by using animal dung, COMPOSTS AND HUMIFIED ORGANIC WASTE in place of fertilizer. However, organic farming HAVE SUSTAINABLE APPROACHES AND DEVELOPS A RANGE OF TECHNIQUES AND PRODUCTS THAT HELPS TO COMPETE WITH CHEMICAL FARMING IN crops production. THIS HAS AN EDGE BECAUSE it is very beneficial for soil and human health. “Hence the government needs to introduce organic farming in the country which is limited in Pakistan at some research centers in Sindh Agriculture University Tando Jam, Agriculture University Faisalabad and some other centers.”
He said that study was conducted to utilize the insecticidal potential of entomopathogenic fungi for agriculture pests like cotton mealy bug and mustard aphid. The mycoinsecticides have acquired a tremendous fame due to their non-hazardous impact to environment.
“The present study was focused to isolate and avail the hypocreales entomopathogenic strains. There were 7 strains isolated from field conditions and various insect population of agriculture habitat, while other nine strains were acquired from mycological culture facilities,” Mr Aziz said.
The researcher has developed a commercially viable mycoinsecticides based on fungus Metarhizium anisopliae and Beauveria bassiana for the insect control that is main component in organic farming and Integrated Pest Management (IPM). This research posed as a unique study in Pakistan, since it has been developed and commercially practiced all over the world. There is a need to utilize the research along with other organic techniques of pest controls, like introduction of parasitoids, predators and resistant crops.